LSU Head Coach John Brady and some LSU players took questions from the media after the game Saturday.
John Brady: "To address the game, I thought the first 10 or 12 minutes of the game, UCLA, they were able to get us back on our heels. We really weren't able to really recover from that or make up the deficit that we created for ourselves or they created for us the first 10 or 12 minutes. You know, there was a combination of guarding us well, then the shots that we were able to get, we couldn't make them. I think it was because they came at us early, doubled Darrel Mitchell off of every ball screen. We weren't able to get any rhythm with the ball.
"When you're not making field goals, the next thing you need to do as an offensive team is get to the foul line and make up the lack of field goal production by making free-throws. Well, one positive thing that we were able to do is get to the free-throw line 28 times, but we couldn't score it from there either tonight. We'd been a 69% free-throw shooting team throughout the season, almost 70.
"It was just one of those situations where it wasn't working. But I compliment UCLA for the way they guarded us the first 10 minutes, 12 minutes. I thought the last 25, 30 minutes of the game we kind of did a little bit better. In the second half defensively, you know, UCLA's numbers, you know, they struggled with it too offensively against us guarding them. I really compliment them for the first 10 or 12 minutes. That was the difference in the game. We weren't able to recover.
To the players, can you talk about how difficult UCLA's defense was tonight. As painful as the subject is, how good was their defense tonight?
Glen Davis: "Well, UCLA did a great job of defending. You know, what can I say? Like their coach said, tonight was their night. They performed well. They handled the task at hand. You know, we were kind of shocked, you know, about -- you know, we were down, we tried to get back. We just couldn't get up. They kept on fighting, kept on fighting. We tried to do some good things. But, you know, it just didn't go our way today. You know, that's how it happens, man. This is basketball. It's so unpredictable.""
Darrel Mitchell: "Well, you know, like he said, they played excellent defense on us. It's something we faced all season. Tonight we just didn't handle it as well as we had in the past. But, you know, it's just one of those things where they shot the ball tremendously well in the first half, like coach said. The first 10, 12 minutes of the game predicted the game. We outscored them in the second half. We defended them a little bit better in the second half. But that first 10, 12 minutes, we couldn't bounce back from that."
Did you ever see this type of game unfold, being dominated for a lot of game? Did you ever see how that could happen?
Glen Davis: "No, I never seen this coming. You know, I never seen this type of game coming, especially the kind of team we are, the kind of character we have. But, you know, you never say "never." They came out and they just punched us. We didn't recover from it."
What was your impression of Mbah a Moute and the defense he played on you tonight?
Glen Davis: "I think Moute played a great job, he did a great job. He was real active. He's relentless on the boards. You know, he has a high level of potential, being so young. You know, he did a great job. Tonight was his night. They played wonderful. He did a good job. I wish the best of luck for him.
How discouraging were those three dunks UCLA had just to start the second half?
Mitchell: "It wasn't really discouraging. You know, they hit us quick again like they did the first half. But after those three plays, we knuckled down on the defensive end. We slowed them down a little bit. You know, we're a tough team. We didn't give up. We kept fighting back. We didn't have enough time to complete the task at hand."
John, was there something besides the foul situation that caused Tyrus to sit so long in the second half?
John Brady: "Well, we just didn't think he was playing as well as he was capable of playing. We thought we'd try to give some other guys an opportunity to play a little bit better. That was really it. Wasn't anything else. I mean, he did get in some early foul trouble. I don't think he was ever really mentally as sharp as we needed him to be in terms of executing and who he was guarding, thinking about what they were trying to do against us. Plus coupled with his foul trouble, we just thought we'd give some other players an opportunity to see if they could make us play a little bit better."
You guys got back within I think nine points. You kind of weathered it a little bit in the first half, then went through that bad stretch. Was that demoralizing a little bit to you guys?
"Our timeouts were fine. We were positive. I think our guys were a little taken aback because they thought they could -- not only did they guard us well. When we did get an opportunity to score, we weren't able to score. I've never seen Glen Davis miss five or six gimmes around the goal. They guard us well. Maybe because they guard us early as they did, they got maybe Glen rushing around the basket. I thought he broke free a couple of times, weren't able to complete it. We knew that we'd have to make a few perimeter shots. You know, we weren't able to do that. Coupled with their interior defense on our bigs, maybe making Glen rush, Glen got 17 shots at the basket, that's probably the most shots he's attempted in the last five or six, seven games, or as many.
"We kind of got it to him where we needed to, we just weren't able to convert. We didn't make anything from the perimeter. We were 0 for 6 from the three-point line. Again, I thought the first 10 or 12 minutes, UCLA was much better than we were in terms of aggressiveness. It got us on our heels. Maybe from that point on, we never were really able to gather ourself offensively, make timely shots, or score the ball around the goal.
"I have think we settled down in handling the ball. We had some careless turnovers in the first half, but I thought really the last seven or eight -- seven or eight of those were early, then we wound up with 15 for the games. We had less turnovers in the game than UCLA. They had 17. That was really a trade-off as it went along.
"We just weren't able to generate anything offensively. When we did have the opportunities, we were able to beat their defense a little bit. We never were able to get any kind of consistent offense or take advantage of the shots that we did have. Then again, we got to the foul line 28 times. When you can't score a field goal, then you get fouled but you can't score a free-throw, it puts you in a real difficult situation offensively to try to win a game against a team as good and well-coached as UCLA is.
How did the Bruins' speed affect Glen specifically? Seemed to get a little winded at times.
"Their speed affect him? Glen did get a little tired. "Speed," you're talking about running up and down the floor? They had a little more depth. They rolled some guys in there at us. They would sub three guys at a time. Although they're not a fast-breaking team, and I think they scored a few baskets early off of some turnovers, but we settled that down a little bit as the game went along. I thought Glen was fine. He got winded a few times. We took him out and set him. He played 31 minutes, which is about right for him. It wasn't like we extended his minutes. I just thought he kind of missed some baskets that he normally would have made. I've seen him all year long, make some of those, convert those. He got a little frustrated out there with missing some balls he thought he should have made also.
"I think the key to it all - I have to repeat this again - is early on how they came at us, got us on our heels, defended us. Maybe because of that we rushed a little bit offensively when we did get some opportunities. They did a nice job. I'm not going to sit up here and say what we didn't do. I think sometimes in a game like this, the other team is a little bit better than you are this particular night. I think overall that's really what happened.
Can you talk about Darrel's game tonight, kind of reflect on this is his last one. All of your other players will be coming back.
"Well, I hope you're correct in the prediction that everyone comes back but Darrel. That would be really nice. I can't say anything about Darrel Mitchell that you haven't already heard me talk about. He's a wonderful young man. He's the star of your team in a sense. You know, I hate to use that term. One of your better players, if not your best player, and he's your lowest-maintenance guy. In today's college game, when your best player or one of your better players can be the guy who is maintenance-free, it's certainly a pleasure for a coach to have a young man like that.
"His game tonight, they did a nice job. I'm not saying Darrel had a bad game; I'm saying he didn't play as well as he would have liked because of what UCLA did to him. They did a wonderful job doubling him off every ball screen. It looked like us guarding JJ Redick. They were not going to allow Darrel Mitchell to get any rhythm of offense. That's smart. That's what's other coach is supposed to do. We didn't do a good enough job of countering that in any way.
"But the rest of his career has been -- he's been in four post-season games, the NIT, three NCAA tournaments, won a Southeastern Conference championship, two Western Division championships, he's averaged probably 21 or 22 wins a year since he's been at LSU. His senior year, gets to go to the Final Four for the first time in 20 years of the program. He's going to graduate on time with over a 3.0. What a wonderful statement for a student-athlete.
Not to sound as Dale Brown used to say Pollyanna or anything, he goes back to his mom and dad and family. He's got a close-knit family in St. Martinville. His grandparents live there. His mom and dad grew up there. His father was his high school coach. What a beautiful story for a young man to come to college, have a wonderful career. You know, the way the college basketball game is set up, unless you win it all, you always lose your last game. It makes it difficult. He's had a wonderful career. We'll never be able to replace him. He's made me a much better coach by having the opportunity to coach him."
UCLA has played really good defense for a month or so. Is it at such a level that it's perhaps even hard to prepare for on the practice floor, to mirror what your kids are going to face in the game?
"I think Texas A&M guarded us really well over in the Jacksonville second game that we were able to win on a Darrel Mitchell 25-foot shot. You know what, that's college basketball. Their defense is sound. They understand rotation. They understand help-side. They're a much better rebounding team, at least tonight against us. We couldn't rebound the ball tonight for some reason. That's really our strength. They took that away.
"But they're very sound. Now, they have a -- Florida will have a few more weapons to score the ball than we do. Florida can shoot the perimeter ball a little bit better than the LSU team I coach. They may can spread them a little bit more, make it difficult to concentrate on one perimeter player as they did with us in Darrel Mitchell. But certainly I'm sure they faced other teams that have multiple scorers, and I'm sure Ben Howland will have a plan about how to guard Florida.
"But they're very sound defensively. I think one key to them tonight that we didn't see as well on tape, and it's hard to see a team on tape, the physicalness of the team, you lose that. But what they did tonight in addition to defending us well was rebound the ball quite well in traffic against Glen and Tyrus. I have to compliment them on that. I think that was one of the keys to the game early. They gave us nothing on the offensive board early on. They were able to get a couple against us and put them back."